As many of you know I lost my beloved father six weeks ago. His death was sudden, unexpected, and truly tragic. One minute he was a youthful 65-year-old man full of life and adventures, and the next he was gone. We discovered his sudden death was caused by a massive blot clot in his pulmonary artery.
These past six weeks have been full of so many emotions — a rollercoaster of emotions to say the least. The grieving process has been very intense for me. I miss my dad so much that it feels like a punch in my gut when I think about all the amazing and fun experiences and memories he’s not going to be here for — the holidays we won’t experience with him, the love and comfort during hard times, the celebrations and birthdays he was such a big part of.
I miss calling him and sharing funny stories about the babies, the FaceTimes just to check in everyday, the advice and support he was always happy to give.
My dad lived for my brother and me, and he adored his four grand babies beyond belief. All he wanted to be was with his grandchildren. He was so proud of my brother and me and the lives we created for ourselves. We were his everything and family meant everything to him.
He was an AMAZING dad and grandpa. An incredible friend. An eternal optimist. He had the best, happy go lucky spirit, and was SO loved and SO cherished by SO many.
A few weeks ago, we celebrated his life and had a beautiful service for him. As a part of the gathering, my brother Dougie gave the most amazing eulogy. It made such an impression on me and those who were a part of the moment that I wanted to share it with you. Also, because it's Father's Day weekend, there isn't a better time to share what an amazing man he was.
The following is my father's eulogy, written by my brother Doug Reinhardt:
Hello everyone, I just wanted to thank you all for being here today, I know my dad is happy to see all of his family and closest friends together, and I’m sure he wishes he could partake in the celebration we are about to have in his honor.
What do you say about a man who has taught you everything you know in life?
HE WAS THE FORCE OF GOODNESS!!!!! Some of you knew him as John, Big J or the Rhino, but I knew him as Dad, he was my best friend and my brother. He was my biggest fan. I know he is here sitting with us today cheering me on, even if I were to give the worst eulogy ever delivered, he would still be proud of me.
See, that was the thing about my Dad. He would always highlight the good in everyone and in everything. Even in my worst three strikeout, two error games, he knew I would be so upset at myself, but he would only focus on the good. “That was a good swing” or “that was a good play on the field,” he'd say.
It was how he looked at life and the people in his life that made him such a great, kind soul. We have celebrated many milestones and great achievements at this hotel together. I know one of the happiest days of my life was when I was drafted, and we had the draft party here at the Montage. I don’t know who was happier, him or me, but it was a culmination of our bond over 18 years of hard-work, dedication, blood, sweat, and tears all coming together, and I owe my success to him being there every step of the way.
My dad’s pride of his family was palpable. The day after his passing, I went to his house to just feel his presence and discovered all sorts of journals and notes to himself that he kept. Even at the age of 65, my dad still had goals, dreams, and lots of ambition. But his greatest passion, was his family. The first thing I found on his bedside table, was a list of 10 things he was grateful for that he had written just the day before his passing. At the very top of the list, was that his kids and grandkids were safe and healthy. And the last thing was that his family made him very proud.
They say you if you want to know the true measure of a man, look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals. By that, my dad’s character was immeasurable as he treated everyone like they were all the greatest human-beings to walk this Earth. It didn’t matter if you were just the valet at a restaurant or the president of the United States, he would treat you like family and family meant everything to my dad.
My father was a very loyal and respectful man, who raised me to be the same. He had these kind of words to live by that he instilled in me from a very young age, and I have done my best to do so. They are: “Respect is earned, Honesty is appreciated, Trust is gained, loyalty is returned. Honesty and Loyalty are key - if two people can be honest with each other about everything, that’s the biggest key to success in any aspect of their life. Whether it be as a business partner, as a friend, as a son, as a father, or as a husband.
In one of his journals, he had a page titled “Attitude,” he wrote: “The longer I live the more I realize the impact of attitude in my life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past. Than education. Than money. Than circumstances. Than failure. Than success. Than what other people think, or say, or do. It is more important than appearances, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company. A church. A home. The remarkable thing is, we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing that we can do is focus on what we can control, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react. And so, it is with you, we are in charge of our attitude.”
He was as loyal as he was fun, with a personality larger than life and a smile always upon his face. Lying in bed a few nights ago, Mia and I were reminiscing and realized that it wasn’t just his smile but his unbound energy that drew you in and made everyone fortunate enough to cross his path feel like he was their best friend. That was my Dad. No matter who you were or how long he knew you, he’d always treat you with respect and show you a good time. He would give the shirt off his back to any one without a second thought.
In another one of his journals from this year, he wrote a list titled “Reminders to myself and suggestions to others” and it says:
"To be elegant. To be funny. Have character. Work smart. Live life boldy. Watch sunsets and draw out your positive feelings. Stop worrying. Say 'you bet.' Laugh. Give. Swim. Play with a child. Hug an old person. Travel to new places. Be compassionate. Concentrate on positivity. Allow yourself to feel rich even if you’re not. Be a do-er. Back up opinions. Live every day as a Saturday. Have a great attitude. Take smart risks. Always follow up and live in the present.”
He was always such a go getter and visionary. Some of my best memories when we were kids are him pushing us to be the best we could be. While we may not have always seen it in ourselves, he saw it, he knew we could be the best and he could get us there. One such time, he was determined to make Casey and I great skiers and we would go to Aspen every winter break over new years.
The three of us would pile into a one bedroom room right on the mountain. Of course, he’d tell us we were on a vacation, but he would set the alarm for 6:30 every morning and make Casey and I wake up, go downstairs and make bagels and him coffee, before he would tell us to gear up and get to the mountain for first tracks.
We would ski all day, stopping only for lunch, staying until the lifts closed. We would do the same routine over and over again for a week straight. No matter how much Casey and I moaned and groaned that we were tired and thought we were on vacation, he would always just tell us, “Change your attitude, I am making you tough and will you thank me one day.”
But even though he was hard on us, he would still carry Casey’s gear up the mountain, never mine. A gentleman through and through, and those little learning experiences he unconsciously showed us are what made Casey and me who we are today.
In the summer, he would take us up to bass lake. He’d make me pack up all the camping equipment into the Land Cruiser, but it had to be perfect, or he would make me unpack it and repack it until it was. Every time it wasn’t up to his standards, he’d tell me, “You can’t cut corners.”
It was just another life lesson that I realized as I became a man. On those long car rides to the lake, he would always play Journey and sing that Prince song to Casey, the most beautiful girl in the world. It would make her feel so special, but that’s just who he was.
I was blessed to have two fathers in my life, where everyone was so selfless that we had every holiday together throughout our entire life. Our family just got bigger, they all made it work for Casey and me, with never a bad thing to say about anyone, just love.
Duane, Kelly, and John were the shining example of what a blended family should strive for. We were all family. In having two fathers, as I got older I was able to have a more brotherly relationship with my dad, that went far beyond our father-son relationship. He became my best friend and wingman. But if I ever got off track, father John was back in full force to get me back on course.
I’m going to miss his shitty golf game, his John quotes, and his terrible fly-fishing casts that he thought were pro-worthy, but, most of all, being able to pick up the phone and call him after a business trip to tell him I landed safely and dinnertime FaceTime with the boys.
In closing, my favorite quote from him is, “Focus, be the architect of your own life.” Dad, you built the Taj Mahal with your life and left the world and everyone in it, better than you found it.
If you’d please raise your glass with me: This is for you, Big J. We’ll miss you forever, but you’ll never be gone from our hearts. Salud.